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Last month, we spent a ton of time talking about the efficiency and overall pixel-pushing prowess of ATI’s new GPU, so we won’t waste much ink on the subject here. Suffice it to say, the 4850 delivers enough power to drive your sweet, new 22-inch monitor at its native resolution.
The card’s silicon is equivalent to that of previous-gen high-end cards. It’s equipped with 512MB of GDDR3 memory running at 993MHz. Unlike the Radeon HD 4870 boards (which cost $100 more), the 4850 doesn’t sport GDDR5 (GDDR5 transfers twice as much data per clock cycle as GDDR3). The upshot? The HD 4850 has the slowest memory interface of any card in the current generation, and benchmarks show that—especially at high AA/anisotropic filtering levels.
The HD 4850 does sport the same GPU as the 4870, but it’s clocked down to a modest 625MHz. Unlike the lesser Nvidia parts, which feature fewer stream processors, the 4850 includes a full complement of 800 stream processors paired with 40 texture units, just like the 4870. This means the HD 4850 is at its best in shader-heavy benchmarks such as Crysis.
At the $200 price point, this card’s main competition is the old GeForce 8800 GT/9600 GT line of parts, against which it compares favorably. In benchmarks that are limited by shader performance, the 4850 absolutely slaughters the older GPUs. In memory-bandwidth-limited benchmarks, the older GPUs close the gap. While the benchmarks we list are primarily geared toward high-resolution screens, we also run some lower-resolution tests—Crysis on Very High chalked up a respectable 15.3 fps, on High it averaged 28 fps. Our image-quality tests didn’t show any anomalies, and high-def video playback was flawless.
For anyone riding an old DirectX 9-era GPU, the HD 4850 is your ticket to full DirectX 10 capability—and a more than capable upgrade from your old card. For folks who already own a DirectX 10 card, there’s really nothing to see here.
Cheap-and-easy DirectX 10. Single-slot. Supports HDMI, HDCP, and accelerated Blu-ray playback.
Not that much faster than an 8800 GT. Conks out at high resolutions, AA/anisotropic filtering levels.
|Radeon HD 4850 ||EVGA GeForce 8800 GT|
|3DMark Vantage Game 1 (fps)||8.62 ||6.0|
|3DMark Vantage Game 2 (fps)||7.34 ||5.69|
|Crysis (fps) ||11.9||4.4|
|World in Conflict (fps) ||11 ||16|
|3DMark06 Game 1 (fps)||29.3||25.2|
|3DMark06 Game 2 (fps)||23.9||23.3|